The Argument Of Death And The Afterlife

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Death and the afterlife has long been a debate in history and philosophy. In his book “What does it all mean?”, Nagel focused a chapter on discussing whether the afterlife might or might not exist. Famous philosopher Socrates also explained his belief in the afterlife in Plato’s “Phaedo”. While sharing some of the ideas, the two thinkers have different arguments and stances on the issue. This paper aims to compare the two philosopher’s argument, and provide an argument towards the question of whether the afterlife exists.
In his book, Nagel did not specifically argue for whether the afterlife exists or not. Instead, he thought the answer depends on whether dualism of mind and body is true or not. If dualism is true, then the soul exists, and
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He offered mainly three arguments supporting his view. He argued since life is cyclical, and the living comes from the dead, and since the soul is the bringer of life, it has to come from the realm of the dead in order to harbor life. When life ends, the soul should return to the realm of death. This cycle means the soul must persist through life and death, thus the existence of the afterlife. He then strengthened this argument with his theory of recollection – since true knowledge cannot be found in the physical world, it can only come from another realm. When we learn, he argued, we were recollecting knowledge from beyond this world and even the past lives, ergo the soul must persist through death for knowledge to be obtained. The third argument he offered was the Forms – the absolute, true concept of the thing in discussion. He claimed everything living partakes in the Form of Soul, similar to beautiful items partaking in the Form of Beauty. Since the Soul is life, and life cannot be death, Soul cannot be death, thus soul cannot …show more content…
Socrates’ argument for immortality assumes the existence of the other world and that life must be brought upon by something. It did not explain why life has to come from the dead, why life is cyclical, why must knowledge only be obtainable outside of this world, how the soul obtains such knowledge, and why do Forms exist. For instance, Aristotle would disagree on the argument of the Forms, in that he argues the Form would not be able to account for changes. As Nagel suggested, the existence of the afterlife depends on whether the soul exists or not. While, even with modern science, we cannot explain the phenomenon of the consciousness or free will, properties a soul exhibits, but we have not yet seen any prove of the existence of the soul either. Nagel suggested the existence of the afterlife hinges on the existence of the soul, however Socrates has assumed the existence of the soul prior to his arguments. Given, Socrates’ soul means the life force of an object, unlike our understanding of the soul as a ghostly driver of the mind, but the same objection can still be applied. Why must the life force be the active participant in bringing upon life, then returning to the unknown as the living dies? As Socrates himself would said, our senses cannot be trusted. Perhaps our sense of consciousness and living is instead the passive consequence of the physical world. Like Simmias and Nagel’s

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